The rapid expansion of Acinetobacter baumannii clinical isolates exhibiting resistance to carbapenems and most or all available antibiotics during the last decade is a worrying evolution. The apparent predominance of a few successful multidrug-resistant lineages worldwide underlines the importance of elucidating the mode of spread and the epidemiology of A. baumannii isolates in single hospitals, at a country-wide level and on a global scale. The evolutionary advantage of the dominant clonal lineages relies on the capability of the A. baumannii pangenome to incorporate resistance determinants. In particular, the simultaneous presence of divergent strains of the international clone II and their increasing prevalence in international hospitals further support the ongoing adaptation of this lineage to the hospital environment. Indeed, genomic and genetic studies have elucidated the role of mobile genetic elements in the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes and substantiate the rate of genetic alterations associated with acquisition in A. baumannii of various resistance genes, including OXA- and metallo-β-lactamase-type carbapenemase genes. The significance of single nucleotide polymorphisms and transposon mutagenesis in the evolution of A. baumannii has been also documented. Establishment of a network of reference laboratories in different countries would generate a more complete picture and a fuller understanding of the importance of high-risk A. baumannii clones in the international dissemination of antibiotic resistance.
Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. and the International Society of Chemotherapy. All rights reserved.